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Fr. 748

January 4, 2017

4.) Neighborhood compost:

How would one go about justifying setting a neighborhood compost up in the different forums alluded to above, i.e. a.) – c.)?

a.) Between government officials, this discussion is, as implied by the problem’s scope, one which takes place at the local level. One can envisage either of two situations. On one, local officials seek to promote, of their own initiative, greener habits and relation to waste within the community. On the other, citizens solicit local officials to bring the issue up for debate within the proper forum. In the first case, while it remains conceivable that local officials could point to financial or budgetary reasons for promoting composting (reducing either personnel, equipment or time expenditures), their reasons will more likely owe to concerns for the state of the environment or, in other words, humanity’s obligations towards the natural order. In the second case, as impetus for the discussion comes from citizens’ moral concerns, reasons of the first kind may largely be left aside, to the more or less exclusive privilege of reasons of the second kind.

b.) Between local officials and citizens, the precise use of moral premises in reasongiving and deliberation may vary in accordance with which group occupies the role of deliberating party and which the role of audience. If local officials occupy the former, they may well invoke reasons of the second kind above, directly engaging in the exchange of moral premises. While still in that position, they might, in contrast, offer reasons of the first kind above, i.e. budgetary, but will nonetheless find it necessary to invoke moral reasons in order to show that both cutting services and imposing a neighborhood compost on citizens are morally permissible. Again, permissibility does considerable work in showing to what point political justification qua legitimate use of coercive force trades in moral premises.

When imagining that citizens occupy the position of deliberating party and local officials that of audience, one may suppose that this follows much the same pattern as that seen in the second case in a.). In short, citizens’ reasons for bringing this issue to local officials’ attention most likely stems from moral concerns about the natural order.

c.) Between citizens, we may again invoke the reciprocity of reasons between deliberating party and audience, on which citizens are likely to persuade other citizens with the same kinds of general reasons which they themselves hold. Namely, if one citizen offers moral considerations for setting a compost up, other citizens are most likely either to accept those moral considerations or to offer up different considerations of a similarly moral kind. In such a way, the initial positing of moral reasons seems prima facie likely to elicit similarly moral reasons from an opposed party. Again, it seems conceivable that citizens could appeal to practical or functional concerns, i.e. budgetary reasons, without it being any clearer how much weight such concerns are likely to carry with others.



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